brainstorming

Date: Sat, 5 Nov 2005 15:08:42 -0700
To: Dan Garbely , Jeff Dragovich , Eric Dod , Tom Small , Brad Bogus , Alex McDonald , Peter Coats , Sam Burd , Peter Riechers , Ruth White , Cathy Leslie , Mark Reiner , John_D_Wind , Eileen Mick , Julie VanLaanen , Carl Lundin , Dustin Haynie , Jacquelyn Schmalzer , Martin Farber , Tyler Palmer(norcal@ewbwestcoast.org), Dave Youmans (funding@ewbwestcoast.org)
From: Pat Coyle
Subject: brainstorming: 40 acre property in Belize
Cc: iisd@villageearth.org, beahrselp@nature.berkeley.edu
Bcc: Pat Coyle
X-Attachments: :WD250:424731:opnsrc prpsl_091005.pdf:

First, this is not in itself an EWB-specific topic, although I believe it is it is related and I am hopeful there could be associated initiatives that are. I don't mean to overstep. If you do not want to be contacted about this, please let me know and I won't.

I am brand new to EWB. I have only been to one meeting of the San Francisco Professional chapter and to the recent Seattle Regional workshop. The Seattle session was a great immersion in EWB for me, given the 18 plus presentations. I plan to be at the EWB-SFP Appropriate Technology Design Team kickoff on November 10th.

I am interested in your experience and ideas for organization, participation, and business structure planning and implementation for a field station for educational, demonstration, and operation of best-in-class sustainable development based on my 40-acre property in Belize. I am also looking to identify people who would be interested in participating as well as exploring potential cooperative initiatives.

I am attaching a pdf of an in-progress draft regarding my current ideas about the 40-acre property in Belize. I also include a recap of a phone conversation about it with Bob Buggs, University of California at Davis, at the end of this email.

Some of you may recall at the Seattle workshop that I asked about perspectives on the sustainability of using outside rather than local resources for doing a charette or establishing a fund for a microcredit initiative. I have also spoken with some of you briefly about this project.

Jonathan Todd, of John Todd Research and Design, indicated he thought to make this project really go, it would to need to invest in a charrette (I had to go look it up) - a group of sustainability experts and ecotourism specialists that could steer the project toward a tangible goal of tourism/ income and sustainability and cultural preservation. The right group could give real substance to the vision. He suggested this could allow my participation but not necessarily my full time leadership - a key constraint for me.

Given my modest budget and the cost of air fares to Belize, I've been seeking approaches to conducting such a process collaboratively on-line or identifying other alternative approaches. I have created a JotSpot collaborative workspace and you're invited to participate. This is my first foray into on-line collaboration using this "wiki" approach. I'm open to seeing how well it can work. I expect there will be some "shakedown" effort to get it going.

I know there are a wide variety of backgrounds among you and many of you have been at this kind of thing for a long time in a variety of contexts. I am looking for suggestions and feedback about how to proceed.

Looking more broadly than the Belize project, I am within 2-5 years of retirement, and am looking at what I want to apply myself to after my 25 + year career at LLNL. I’m interested in sustainable development and want to apply my talents to helping solve problems such as lack of clean water, sanitation, nutrition, poverty/livelihood, health, education, etc. I grew up on ranches in the Western US, graduated from Colorado School of Mines, am a registered ME and PE, a certified Project Management Professional, and have an MBA.

It is encouraging to know organizations like EWB and others are working these problems and provide opportunities for participation and service.

I appreciate any feedback, suggestions, or referrals you may be able to provide. If you prefer to talk, please let me know and I will call to schedule a time.

Thanks,

Patrick Coyle
1371 Calais Ave.
Livermore, CA
94550
USA

pat@coyles.com
(h) 925 606-9646
(cell) 925 784-3682

Date: Sun, 18 Sep 2005 14:16:35 -0700
To: rlbugg @ucdavis.edu
From: Pat Coyle
Subject: recap and thanks again

Bob,

Again I want to thank you for the call. I was delighted with the opportunity to talk with you and am excited about your suggestions and places to follow up with.

The following is a quick draft recap of my notes from our conversation.

Will you please look it over to see if I introduced errors that should be fixed. Please feel free to edit it as needed. I would plan to fold in these ideas into my planning.

Thanks again,
Pat
**************************************
recap of 9/17/05 phone call follows
**************************************

Bob asked a number of questions about the place and regional communities: did it have unique compelling features, water - ponds or streams, what about the area communities, etc?

He asked about my plans. I described my current idea of using intensively managed sheep/goat grazing to clear back the brush, see how existing cashews look, as well as establishing new selected cashew varieties and possibly other crops. I stressed I was only in initial planning, that I am receptive to changing it.

Asked if I was intent on clearing it all or if I would consider retaining other trees and plants, growing cashews in between in less efficient way. I said I was receptive, that I'd thought a monolithic pure cashew orchard was not likely the way I wanted to go.

Suggested I look at the Brentwood place that Rick and Kristie Knoll run (http://www.knollorganics.com; 925 634-5959). He indicated this is about the best farm of this type in CA. He described a multi-tier system with figs and stone-fruit at upper level, herbs at the mid-level, and salad greens at lower level. He suggests I approach them, tell what I'm up to and talk with them about their approach. See when they do tours, try to join one. (Subsequently I did visit the farm and toured it with Kristie Knoll.)

Based on my answers to his questions, his gut reaction was that there may not be a single compelling reason for an educational program on the property. It may make more sense to consider the surrounding region and make a list of how to use it in educational opportunities.

Suggested list all the reasons and try to think outside the box

For example:
agroforestry with branchout from San Lazaro initiative to our place
microcredit (Noted Sijit Sinha's (sp?) work on womens collectives in India)
local crafts, handwork, etc.
medicinal, herbal, or other food plants
Mayan sites near by
Birding

TBD more items for list

Do brainstorming with locals about what is looking to work or emerge.
Contact local hebalists, curanderos about medicinal plants and herbs.

Commented might not be right for a single-purpose agricultural demonstration site with the kind of soil it has (lacking darker loam); but with a mix, might be able to make it work.

Asked how much of Belize has this kind of soil. I said I didn't know but I expect a large area, from Crooked Tree up toward August Pine Ridge, plus other areas as well. He indicated makes models more interesting if larger areas for potential applicability. (Subsequently, I checked and see there is significant acreage of this type in Belize. I have not yet had opportunity to follow up with people in GOB Ag Ministry to see if they already have made assessments.)

Asked about water when I discussed the adjacent wedge of bush between my place and the Shipyard cutoff. He stressed water and amphibians are interesting features. In terms of ecotourism, amphibians are #2 behind birds. If could team with other landowners who have bogs, marshs, ponds, streams or even seasonal wetlands that it could add to the mix of assets.

It looks like with the need to extend beyond the property, that team work and cooperation would be needed.

Noted another model is FARMS center, (530 795-1520) used to be Land Based Learning, Ag and Restoration Ecology in Winters, CA. Craig McNamara (yes, that McNamara) runs it, is an organic walnut grower. Mary Kimball is likely the first person I'd reach at phone. Part of their model engages students in habitat restoration projects on local farms and ranches (again off the property).

Noted both Craig and Rick are fluent in Spanish. That if it was of interest to him, Craig might well go to Belize. (Subsequently I received feedback from Mary Kimball with suggestions to clarify the proposal, which I have not yet done.)

Lots of amphibians and birds are a real asset in terms of attractions for ecotourism.

Suggested check out Aid to Artisans and TechnoServe, a couple of non-profits that often work together on infrastructure building.

Said he'd been in projects like this before, has a feel for the kind of issues on the ground.

Noted could try to team up with other property managers on reforestation.

Might want some features, maybe a few, on the property itself - but with the balance out in the community.

Stressed an outward outreach posture is a key distinction versus an inward focus. He noted he worked with New Alchemy, John Todd, et al, and they built so much in that they ended up with lots of curator types vs outreach people. This tends to make for more bureaucracy and bureaucrats tend to hire more, if not careful can get too much "bad process".

The key is to have an outward orientation - it is ok to have a model or 2 on site, but don't let it get too cluttered up. To have creativity, need some level of chaos, getting too cluttered up with on-site projects can stifle it. Has been the death of many non-profits.

Doing pilots on the property and extending them out into the community is one thing vs institutionalizing them as permanent operations. Don't hesitate to take them down after piloting.

Don't hesitate to contact him again.


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